"School grounds should not be as safe as possible but as safe as necessary"
While promoting risk-taking on school grounds may raise questions of liability for schools and concerns for parents it is essential for the development of healthy young people, according to a declaration released September 4, 2017 by the International School Grounds Alliance (ISGA). The ISGA is a global network of organizations, educators, architects, planners and researchers, including Berkeley-based landscape architecture firm BAY TREE DESIGN. This declaration is endorsed by all 54 ISGA Leadership Council members, representing 38 organizations from 17 countries and six continents.
The declaration cites research from around the globe demonstrating the benefits of risk-taking and showing that indiscriminate risk-minimization policy can be a source of harm. "Since the world is full of risks, children need to learn to recognize and respond to them in order to protect themselves and to develop their own risk-assessment capabilities."
Manfred Dietzen, Landscape Architect at Grün macht Schule (GMS) and ISGA Leadership Council member, in Berlin, says, “You can only learn to fall by falling.” He explains that “Conventional playgrounds provide children with safety in ‘pretend worlds’ which they cannot find anywhere else. At our 400 playgrounds we give our students opportunities to individually assess risk. Over the past 30 years our students have shown that this approach results in fewer major injuries, and our children graduate with better risk assessment capabilities.“
The declaration calls on those who plan and manage school environments to take benefits of risk into account. It further encourages parents, school officials, legislators and insurers to devise policies and processes that permit schools to provide activities with beneficial levels of risk.
Lisa Howard, Principal of BAY TREE DESIGN, ISGA Leadership Council member and Co-chair for the ISGA Risk Working Group, says "when we don't provide our children with opportunities to appropriately challenge themselves we do them harm. Exploring beneficial risks in the world allows children to develop self-confidence, resilience, independence, and sound judgment. Small accidents may happen from time to time but when the risks are appropriate to the children's developmental levels there are more benefits than harm and large accidents are less likely to happen than in school grounds that do not provide beneficial risks. We need to believe in our children and let them explore. It is part of healthy development."
The ISGA encourages other organizations to add their support by endorsing the declaration by going to http://www.internationalschoolgrounds.org/risk/
The Risk in Play and Learning Declaration (also called the Ubud-Höör Declaration) was developed at ISGA Leadership Council meetings in Ubud, Bali and Höör, Sweden. For more information about the declaration and a complete text, see attached document and visit http://www.internationalschoolgrounds.org/risk/. Visit www.baytreedesign.com for more information about BAY TREE DESIGN.
 Grün macht Schule - is the name of the organization. It is related to a saying in German and is a play on words. The meaning of the name is the greening of/green spaces (Grün) is going to catch on/help people understand and reproduce more green (Schule machen).